Monday, August 31, 2015

Humor in Uniform – The “Scholar Warrior”

Humor in Uniform

An Unforgettable Character I Met – In and Out of Uniform
A Spoof


In the Academia – I have seen self-styled “Scholars”

In the Military – I have seen self-styled “Warriors”

And – among Military Veterans – I have seen self-styled “Scholar Warriors”

Let me tell you the story of one such “Scholar Warrior”

Well – actually – it will be more apt to call him a “Warrior Scholar” – since – at first – he was a “Warrior” – and he turned into “Scholar” much later – a ‘warrior-turned-scholar’ to be precise.

But – if you want me to put it bluntly – like most “Scholar Warriors” you see proliferating like hobgoblins and pontificating on TV debates – it would be more accurate to describe him as a “pseudo- warrior” turned “pseudo-scholar” – because – neither had he fought a war – nor had he achieved any earth-shaking scholarly accomplishments.

Let’s skip the semantics and the gobbledygook – we will call him a “Scholar Warrior” – and get on with the story.


Circa 1992 – The “Warrior”

“Sir – you teach very ‘high-funda’ stuff…” the Major said, sidling up to me in the bar.

“Well – military technology is getting high-tech…” I said.

“Sir – that may be for others – but Sir – please but have mercy on me – I am a simple ‘Cavalry’ officer…” he pleaded.

“Cavalry…? Don’t tell me they are sending officers from one of those ceremonial horse regiments for this ‘Technical Staff Course’…” I said.

“No Sir – my ‘cavalry’ regiment has got tanks – but I am a ‘pure warrior’…”

“Ha Ha – ‘Pure Warrior’ – what do you mean by that…?”

“Sir – I am not interested in learning…”

“You are not interested in learning…? Then why have you come for this course…?”

“Sir – this course is good for my career – it is a ‘criteria’ course for promotion and getting good appointments…”

“Oh – so you want to qualify the course without studying….?”

“Exactly, Sir – you have really understood my problem…”

“So what do you want me to do…? I certainly cannot lower the standard of training or evaluation…”

“No Sir – please maintain your standard – many others are keen on learning – but I want to qualify with the ‘bare minimum’ effort…”

“Ha Ha – ‘bare minimum effort’…” I laughed, “Do you know – we have an expression in the Navy – “bare minimum inescapable requirement’…”

“Yes, Sir – you have put it in a nutshell – ‘bare minimum inescapable requirement’…” the Major said.

The ‘Pure Warrior’ qualified the course with the ‘bare minimum inescapable requirement’…

Circa 2002 – The “Scholar”

“Hello, Sir – what a pleasant surprise to see you here…”

I recognized him at once – he was the same ‘Pure Warrior’ – who had been my ‘student’ around 10 years ago.

“Well – I am even more surprised to see you here – on the University Campus…” I said.

“Sir – I am on study leave…”

“What…? You…? You have taken ‘study leave’…? Don’t tell me that you have suddenly developed an interest in ‘learning’…?”

“No Sir – I am least interested in studying – but I was forced to take ‘study leave’…”

“You were forced to take ‘study leave’ – that is amazing – in the Navy it is almost impossible to get ‘study leave’ due to the perpetual shortage of officers – isn’t there a shortage of officers in the Army…?”

“Sir – there is a shortage of junior officers – but there is a surplus of Colonels…”

“Really…? But how can you be forced to take ‘study leave’…?”

“Not really forced at gunpoint, Sir – but I was persuaded to volunteer. One day my Boss called me – and he told me to apply for study leave. When I expressed my reluctance – my Boss said to me:

‘See – you have finished your command tenure and you still have two years to go before your next promotion board. I have found out that – till now – your ACRs are good – so – if you take study leave – then – your average will remain the same – since there will be no ACRs rendered during your study leave – so you are likely to be promoted. But – if you are adamant – and you refuse to apply for study leave – then you may land up getting superseded. Try to understand the situation – since there are surplus Colonels – they may post you anywhere – in some insignificant appointment – under some guy who does not like ‘Cavalry Officers  and you may be ‘written off’  and that will be the end of your career. So – for your own good  it is best for you to go on study leave. Why don’t you select a course in Pune for your study leave – so that you can enjoy a two years paid holiday in your hometown…’

So – I chose this easy course  where I would have to study the least…”

“Bare Minimum Inescapable Requirement…?” I joked.

“Yes, Sir…” he laughed.

Circa 2012 – The “Scholar Warrior”

A few years after I had retired – I was invited to attend a Seminar.

There – I was stunned to see my old friend – my ex-student – the “pure warrior” – who I had taught 20 years ago – and who I had later met 10 years ago when he was a “scholar” – when he was on ‘study leave’ in the University. 

He seemed delighted to meet me.

“Hello, Sir – I am so happy to see you here. Sir – it is great honour for me to speak before my ‘Guru’…” he said.

“You are speaking at this seminar…?” I asked, surprised.

“Yes, Sir – I am the 3rd speaker, Sir…” he said – and he handed me a copy of the seminar programme he was carrying in his hand.

“That’s fantastic – it seems the ‘study leave’ has turned you into a ‘scholar’…” I said.

“Not at all, Sir – I joined back after my ‘study leave’ – but – sadly – I was ‘passed over’ for promotion – so I quit the army – and I was looking for a job in the civilian world – when my I met a Professor who had taught me during ‘study leave’ – he suggested that I do my Ph.D. – and join the ‘Academia’ – where I could enjoy a cool life – and could keep ‘working’ till 65 – or even 70…”

“Ph.D…? Don’t tell me you are doing your Ph.D. …?” I said, taken aback.

“Sir – in fact – I have just completed my Ph.D. a few days ago…” he said.

He handed me his visiting card.

I read his visiting card.

He had written his name as: Col (Dr) ***** (Retd)

He had become a “Scholar Warrior”…


I laughed to myself at the quirk of fate…

My reluctant student had become a “Scholar Warrior” – and me – well – I have been reduced to being a “Keyboard Warrior”…

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. This Story and all Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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